There’s nothing quite like it. Nothing - not even a vacuum cleaner - clears away our mental, emotional cobwebs or dust more than a good belly laugh; laughter that isn’t over in a brief moment. Little else can beat a good dose of laughter; laughter that isn’t smothered or contained, but laughter that explodes like an erupting volcano. Laughter which lasts until all control is lost; laughter that grabs hold and refuses to let go. When it finally releases its grip you’re left drained with a tear-stained face and sore stomach muscles. Your mouth feels like it will never regain its original shape. Laughter which leaves you gasping for air; laughter that causes you to giggle throughout the ensuing hours each time the absolute absurdity resurfaces. In many instances, for the life of you, you can’t recall what kicked it off in the first place. But you don't care if you can't remember, preferring to relish the feeling.
I know what I’m talking about when I say a healthy dose of laughter is better than vacuuming because after re-training my vacuum cleaner this morning, I re-acquainted it with some old friends, dust and cobwebs. And boy, were they sucked in! Unfortunately, the re-training exercise wasn’t completely successful (perhaps the re-training sessions should happen more often). I’ve noticed some dust and cobwebs are still hanging about. Where’s the humour in that? It’s something to sneeze at, though. I’m going to have to suck it up, and do it all over again; but not now; I’ve lost my sense of humour…and conveniently misplaced my vacuum cleaner.
In my opinion, these days there are few good comedians around, other than, of course, politicians; in particular, a certain chubby chappy here in this country, who shall remain nameless, but with whom I’d hate to share the maiden voyage of the Titanic. I'll leave it at that because he has fondness for suing those who don't agree with him.
The daily news is depressing. It doesn’t give us much to laugh about. Tears of sadness are shed over the news, not tears laughter. In a world full of violence and despair we have to find humour wherever and however we can because there are not many side-splitting moments in the news reports. If and when we do find something to laugh about, we should hold onto it for dear life!
For my liking, there are far too many unfunny TV panel-type shows filled with self-serving nonentities who, in their own mind believe they’re exceptionally clever and hilarious. They must do, because they always laugh at their own “jokes”. I find them frustratingly annoying. They don’t tickle my funny bone, so I give them a wide berth.
Of course, the very clever, interesting and highly-amusing “QI” isn’t included in my above criticism. It’s a show beyond reproach.
Seriously – this is no laughing matter - where have the good comedy writers gone? What’s happened to comedy shows today? Perhaps it is just me; maybe I have lost my sense of humour.
When I feel like having a hearty good laugh via the TV I watch recorded re-runs of “Cheers”, “Frasier” and “Everybody Love Raymond”. Even though I’ve already seen most of them, they still manage to make me laugh. And, I find it difficult to ignore dear old Agnes and her boys. She’s always up for it. Mrs. Brown has the insane ability to raise guffaws. I’m not too proud to admit my likeness for the non-politically-correct, cardigan-wearing hell-raiser. "Mrs Brown's Boys" and her ploys are good for a laugh Irish writer/performer Brendan O'Carroll is a funny man; his alter-ego, "Agnes Brown" is a funny woman..
“Fawlty Towers” still takes the cake. Actually, I think Fawlty was the icing on top of comedy cakes, or capers; capers of the playful kind, not the pungent, pickled flower bud of the spiny Mediterranean shrub.
It’s difficult to ignore the brilliance of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. So silly and irreverent they were; yet so intelligent, surreal and masterful.
Before the Python crew flew in, “The Goons” enthralled with their madness. Tony Hancock stepped up to the plate, as did Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Stepping a little further back into the past - let’s not forget quick-witted Groucho Marx and his siblings; or the vaudeville comedy of the Three Stooges; the comical facetiousness of Abbott & Costello or Laurel & Hardy.
In today’s mad, mad world we need more zany laughter; more funny characters and storylines. It could be the cure the world needs to combat the indecent atrocities and craziness that engulf like a plague
Brussel Sprouts with Fried Capers: Bring pot of salted water to boil; add 900g Brussels sprouts; cook until just tender, about 5mins; drain; set aside. Drain 1/2c capers. Heat 1/3c x-virgin olive oil in pan over high heat; add capers; cook, stirring carefully until capers start to open and become brown and crisp; about 5mins. Drain capers on paper towel. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely-chopped to pan; cook 1min; add sprouts and ½-3/4tsp chilli flakes; stir to coat with oil; cook 5mins; stir occasionally. Transfer to serving plate; sprinkle with capers and squeeze of lemon.
Looney Tuna Capers: Cook 400g pasta bows al dente. Return drained pasta to pan over low heat; stir in 6tbs x-virgin olive oil and 2-3 crushed garlic cloves. After 1min, toss through 2x200g cans drained tuna, 85g halved pitted black olives, some sliced semi-dried tomatoes and 2tbs rinsed capers; warm through; season; serve.
Tomato-Capers-Breadcrumbs & Olives Spaghetti: Combine 2tbs x-virgin olive oil and 2 sliced garlic cloves over med-low heat in pan. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden, about 2mins. Remove the garlic slices with a slotted spoon; discard; then add 1/2c fresh sourdough breadcrumbs to the pan. Turn heat to medium; cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are crisp. Remove from the heat; set aside. Return pan to med-heat; add 1tbs x-virgin olive oil, 1/4tsp hot red pepper flakes and 1 minced garlic clove. Cook about 30 seconds; add 1 un-drained can chopped tomatoes, 2tbs rinsed, coarsely-chopped capers and 1/2c coarsely-chopped green or black olives. Simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down, 15 to 20mins; season to taste. Cook 375g whole-wheat spaghetti to al dente; drain; toss with the sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and 1/4c chopped fresh parsley; toss again briefly. Sprinkle over freshly-grated Parmesan cheese; serve.
Iced Vo-Vo Cake: Grease and line 17x27cm brownie tin. Place 1-1/2c S.R. flour, 1/2c plain flour, 1c caster sugar, 150g cubed, room-temp butter, 2/3c milk and 3 eggs in bowl; beat on low speed until just combined; increase speed to high; beat 1-2mins until thick. Pour into prepared pan; bake in preheated 140C oven, 40-50mins. Cool on rack completely. Icing: Beat 125g room-temp butter and 2c icing sugar until fluffy. Melt 1-1/2c white & pink marshmallows in small saucepan. Transfer melted marshmallows to icing; beat until smooth; add a little pink food colouring; spread mixture over top of cake in two large strips, leaving gap down the middle; dollop 1/2c raspberry or strawberry jam down the middle; sprinkle top of cake with desiccated coconut. Serve with whipped cream!